Tag Archive | in the news

The Heart of the Matter

What sort of people will we be?
What will we choose to believe?
Will we be open and unafraid;
Or angry, frightened,
Stuck in our own ways?

Will we choose generosity
And noble pursuits;
Will we be tight-fisted,
Uncaring brutes?

Will our power and wealth
Be invested for good
Or squandered and hoarded
Until all who would
Prosper alongside us
Are sickened and dead?
I say,
Let’s be people of principle instead.

The heart of the matter is,
We have a choice:
We can silence the cries of need
Or join with our own voice.
What will you hold on to?
What will be your way?
I invite you to choose rightly;
Let’s join together today.

Powerful People

As Mr. Trump debates whether he will keep the US in the Paris Accord, I have this thought:

We are powerful people.
We can choose for ourselves:
Will we give in to control?
Or will we stand on our own?

We can decide what is right;
No one ever does that for us.
Thoughts, feelings, actions, words
Are always results of our own choices.

Stand tall, powerful people!
Think, choose and live;
Never sell out or give in;
Own what you say, do and believe.

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

From:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/05/24/529831472/trump-wants-families-on-food-stamps-to-get-jobs-the-majority-already-work
When President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, unveiled the administration’s budget blueprint earlier this week, which calls for significant cuts
to food stamps, he noted that the aim of the budget was to get people working.

“If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re
not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work,” Mulvaney said Tuesday.

But the reality is, many people (44 percent) who rely on SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps is now known — have at least
one person in the family working, according to
the latest figures
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And when it comes to families on SNAP with kids, a majority — 55 percent — are bringing home wages, according to USDA. The problem is, those wages aren’t
enough to actually live on. …

In fact, SNAP already requires able-bodied adults without children to find a job within three months and to work at least 20 hours a week within three
months or lose their benefits. All told, about 42 million people receive SNAP benefits.

 

Another Hero’s Story

Chris Parker came to Manchester Arena as an anonymous beggar, positioning himself near the crowd of exiting Ariana Grande fans in hopes that he might pocket
some spare change.

Tragedy altered those plans:

“It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away my gut instinct was to run back and try and help,” he told the wire service. “There
was people lying on the floor everywhere.

“I saw a little girl … she had no legs,” he added. “I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said, ‘Where is your mum and daddy?’”

He is haunted by what he encountered, he said.

“There were nuts and bolts all over the floor,” Parker told the Press Association. “People had holes in their back.”

“It’s the screams I can’t get over, and the smell. … I don’t like to say it, but it smelled like burning flesh.”

There was also a wounded woman — “in her 60s,” he guessed — whom Parker tried to comfort.

“She passed away in my arms,” he said. “I haven’t stopped crying.”

Chris Parker and Steve Jones were two people who helped; there were more:
“There was a lot of homeless people that stayed there and helped, and that’s what we done,” said Jones, a former bricklayer who has been homeless for about
a year. “And obviously when we seen children like that with blood … having to pull nails and stuff out of their arms and I pulled one out of this little
girl’s face.”
In response to the heroic deeds of Chris and Steve, donation sites have been set up.
Here is the one for Chris:
https://www.gofundme.com/3dgkuj-help-chris-parker

The crowdfunding campaign also elicited a response from a woman claiming to be Parker’s mother, who said she had lost touch with her adult son.

“This is my son and I am desperate to get in touch with him,” Jessica Parker wrote. “We have been estranged for a very long time, and I had no idea he
was homeless. I am very proud of him, and I think he might need me right now.”

From:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/05/24/we-had-to-pull-nails-out-of-childrens-faces-homeless-men-helped-after-manchester-blast/?utm_term=.df9202b9f225

True Nobility

I found this story on:
Nearly $30,000 Raised for Homeless Man Who Helped Manchester Arena Attack Victims
I chose excerpts to highlight something good that is coming out of a tragedy:

A homeless man who was hailed as a hero after coming to the aid of the wounded as they fled the Manchester Arena following Monday’s deadly attack is now
receiving help himself.

Stephen Jones’ selflessness has not been lost on social media where one woman
set up an account on the charity fundraising site Just Giving,
which has now raised close to $30,000.

And on Tuesday, David Sullivan, joint-chairman of English Premier League club West Ham United, told the BBC he would like to help Jones further.

“It looks like he needs some help, so we are desperate to find who he is and give him six months free accommodation and a little bit of money to help him
on his way,” Sullivan told BBC Radio 5 live.

Sullivan, together with his son, David Jr. tracked Jones down with the help of social media. The pair are now working out how to pay his rent for the next
six months while supplying him with new clothes and work opportunities.

“Dave and myself were both hugely impressed by the bravery shown by Steve, the emergency services and all those who rushed to the aid of those affected
by the Manchester attack,” said Sullivan in a statement….

Jones was outside the arena when the bomb went off.

“First there was a bang, I thought it was some kind of firework, and then there was a big explosion,” Stephen Jones told CNN affiliate ITN.
“I just felt the wind force, and then everyone started screaming and running. Me and my mate we got up and we started running. We realized what had happened,
we run back, and all the women and children were coming out with blood.”

“We are human, we still have a heart, we still have that instinct to help people out that need help and that’s what we are doing. And obviously when we
are seeing children like that, with blood and, pulling nails out of their arms and stuff, and there were a couple in a girl’s face,” he said.

“It was children, a lot of children with blood all over them, crying and screaming. If I didn’t help, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself for walking
away and leaving kids like that.”

“We wiped blood from children’s faces. I mean, one little girl, she was covered in blood. Her mom was screaming so some guy was coming at her, took the
little girl’s t-shirt off her, and it was someone else’s blood shed on her.”

Jones described how he and a friend held the legs up of a woman who was severely bleeding while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. “We thought she was
just going to bleed right out.”

Jones’ actions have shined a spotlight on Manchester’s growing homeless problem. The newly elected mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has pledged to donate
15% of his salary to a homeless charity.

He said a lot of homeless people sleep outside near the Manchester Arena.
***
Let love, compassion and valor prevail, no matter how hard evil tries to injure and destroy.

Holes in the Safety Net

These are excerpts from an article in the Washington Post.  The url is at the bottom of my post, in case you want to read it in its entirety.  Meanwhile, I have some thoughts:

“President Trump’s first major budget proposal on Tuesday will include massive cuts to Medicaid and call for changes to anti-poverty programs that would
give states new power to limit a range of benefits, people familiar with the planning said, despite growing unease in Congress about cutting the safety
net.

For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by
House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits
for about 10 million people over the next decade.”
*****
In spite of negative imagery that paints a picture of people on Welfare and Medicaid as “moochers” and “manipulators,”  The reality is, the vast majority of people receiving these benefits are there legitimately.  Many of them are very ill or disabled.  Moreover, these programs are monitored on a regular basis, making it very difficult to misuse the system.  Anybody caught doing so can be charged with Welfare fraud.
***

“The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs, people
familiar with the budget plan said, potentially leading to a flood of changes in states led by conservative governors. Many anti-poverty programs have
elements that are run by both the states and federal government, and a federal order allowing states to stiffen work requirements “for able-bodied Americans”
could have a broad impact in terms of limiting who can access anti-poverty payments — and for how long.”

****
People receiving benefits in many States are already required to “work toward work.”  In my State, for example, anyone who doesn’t have a disability must take part in a jobs program designed to get them into the work force, starting with volunteer work if appropriate.  It is obvious that a rather large group of people don’t know this.  They assume that those on Welfare are whiling away their days while they collect benefits.  Again, the truth:  The days of sitting home and collecting a Welfare check until your youngest child turns 18 are long over and past.
***

“Trump’s decision to include the Medicaid cuts is significant because it shows he is rejecting calls from a number of Senate Republicans not to reverse
the expansion of Medicaid that President Barack Obama achieved as part of the Affordable Care Act. The House has voted to cut the Medicaid funding, but
Senate Republicans have signaled they are likely to start from scratch.”

***
Dear senators:  Our hope lies with you at this point.
One colossal advantage of the Medicaid extension was that small towns could afford to have a medical clinic.  This allows their citizens to receive care in a timely, healthy way in a non acute setting.  They can now have preventative services and important monitoring without driving at least 200 miles, in some cases, to see a doctor or go to the hospital.  This means better care at far less cost per patient.  This also impacts whole communities; not just individuals.
***

“Trump offered a streamlined version of the budget plan in March, but it dealt only with the 30 percent of government spending that is appropriated each
year. In that budget, he sought a big increase in military and border spending combined with major cuts to housing, environmental protection, foreign aid,
research and development.”

***
Do you have a problem with Mr. Trump’s priorities?  I do.
***
“But Tuesday’s budget will be more significant, because it will seek changes to entitlements — programs that are essentially on auto­pilot and don’t need
annual authorization from Congress. The people describing the proposals spoke on the condition of anonymity because the budget had not been released publicly and the White House is closely guarding details.”
****
This is significant because it forces these programs to compete for funding, along with everything else.  Imagine that you rely on subsidies for food, housing, basic living expenses and medical care.  Now think about how secure your living situation will be if that funding is subject to whatever party has the majority and the mood of the nation.  Basics are necessary if people are to have the time and energy to improve their lives…including the development of job skills and the procurement of employment.
***
Programs in danger include:
Medicaid
SNAP (The modern version of food stamps)
Habitat for Humanity (which, by the way, includes some “sweat equity” on the part of the people getting the house.)
subsidized school lunches (Children learn better when they are not hungry…just a thought.)
“The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness
across 19 federal agencies.”

“Trump has instructed his budget director, former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney, that he does not want cuts to Medicare and Social Security’s
retirement program in this budget, Mulvaney recently said, but the plan may call for changes to Social Security Disability Insurance, seeking ideas for
ways to move people who are able out of this program and back into the workforce.”
***
Social Security already conducts regular evaluations to determine the ability of beneficiaries.  They also offer assistance, such as the PASS Plan (Plan to Achieve Self Sufficiency) so that anyone who is able can become employed.  It is a grave misconception that people are lazily hanging out on Social Security Disability.  Moreover, SSDI is based on a person’s work history:  He or she has paid into the system, at least a little bit.
One more thing:  There are strict criteria for who is eligible or not, to the point that some people who truly would benefit from SSDI are not enrolled.
Mr. Trump really doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to Social Security Disability Insurance.

I do have to say, it’s appalling to me that the ones making these decisions have absolutely NO idea about what these programs are, who benefits and what their lives are like, especially Mr. Trump, who is so isolated from the real world.

I think every congressperson, senator and president should have to live for one year on the amount of money that people in poverty relief programs receive, in the same neighborhoods and with the same level of care.  They might…possibly, maybe, I hope…find some compassion.

One more thing:  This “safety net” affects everybody from the poorest to the wealthiest among us, whether people recognize that or not.

There are more points on which to comment.  If you want to read the article, here it is:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-to-propose-big-cuts-to-safety-net-in-new-budget-this-week/2017/05/21/62c01f44-3e34-11e7-adba-394ee67a7582_story.html